It amazes me still how many wonderful things Elvis did for people.
Here are some more examples of what a loving heart he had.
“Stories of Elvis Presley”
When Elvis was three years old, his hair had grown past his shoulders, Gladys sat him down wrapped a towel around his shoulders and cut his hair. Elvis cried when his mother cut the first lock of his hair. When she was finished, Gladys put her sons precious curls into a box and hid them for safe keeping. Twenty years later Elvis received another memorable haircut courtesy of the U.S. Army. The regulation crew cut displeased Elvis a great deal; long hair was a big part of his identity. Gladysworried about her sons reaction to such major changes in his lifestyle. She knew that he missed his hair, so she sent him the old box containing the little blond curls. Elvis did not understand the meaning of the gift until he read the note which accompanied it. Elvis laughed and cried as he read the touching letter which explained the significance of the hair. The following morning, Elvis called Gladys at Graceland and thanked her for the package. He told her that he loved her more than she could ever know, and that he missed her terribly.
Many folks have given thanks for Elvis Presley’s generosity. Not many people realize what a generous and giving legacy Elvis left behind.
Not only did he give the world his time and talent, he also gave back to those in need. He donated thousands to charities, nonprofits and those who needed a helping hand. Elvis started giving back as soon as his career began, and this was a trend that continued throughout the rest of his life.
Early in his career, he donated toys to a Marine drive for children and gave $1,050 to Humes High School so that all 1,400 students could go to the annual E.H. Crump Memorial Football Game for the Blind. In 1959, he donated blood at the Wartturm Barracks in Friedberg for the German Red Cross.
Never one to forget his roots, Elvis performed in his hometown, Tupelo, in 1956 and 1957 to raise money for a youth center and park. Following a devastating tornado in McComb, Mississippi in January 1975, Elvis performed a benefit concert for the city in May of the same year. At the show, Elvis presented a check for more than $100,000 to Mississippi Governor Bill Waller.
In 1961, he performed a concert to build the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor and raised more than $65,000. And 12 years later, Elvis donated the proceeds from his 1973 “Aloha from Hawaii” satellite-concert to the Kui Lee cancer fund.
He loved Memphis and wanted the best for the city. On Dec. 1, 1967, he pledged $10,500 to the Memphis Jewish Community Center Building Fund and paid a $2,500 installment on that date. On Dec. 12, 1966, he donated checks totaling $105,000 to various Memphis charities. September 29, 1967 was declared “Elvis Presley Day” by Memphis Mayor William Ingram and Tennessee Governor Buford Ellington in recognition of the King’s many charitable contributions. A massive wooden plaque was given to Elvis by the City of Memphis in recognition for his contributions to more than 50 local charities. That plaque, along with numerous checks he wrote to charities, are on display at Graceland.
Elvis was known to give plenty of gifts – there are countless stories of surprising friends, family and even total strangers with brand new cars – but he also helped his friends pay their medical bills (and often sent personal get-well notes, too).
In 1974, he contributed to a fund for singer-songwriter Ivory Joe Hunter, who was hospitalized with cancer, and he helped pay for Jackie Wilson’s hospital bills following Wilson’s stroke in 1975.
Some of Lisa’s best memories of her father stem from his generous nature. “I only remember him giving to people,” she said. “I remember people going to him saying, ‘I just got a bum deal,’ and bang, there was a check. I never saw him not doing something for somebody, ever. … That was probably the one thing that kept him sane, was his ability to give back.”
Elvis’ fans can give like the King too during this holiday season. By making a donation to the 2014 Graceland Poinsettia Campaign, you will support the Elvis Presley Charitable Foundation, as well as add to the beauty of Graceland during the holiday season. The red poinsettias line the staircase at Graceland and can be seen throughout the mansion by guests who visit this Christmas.
In early 1956 Elvis was driving a new Cadillac down a Memphis street when a teenaged boy ran after him on foot. The boy ran behind the car for several blocks. A policeman noticed the boy chasing the car, thinking the vehicle was stolen and the boy was chasing the thief. He turned on his siren and drove after them.
Several yards later both car and runner came to a halt. The policeman fined them both $25. Neither Elvis nor his pursuer knew what the tickets were for, but the boy insisted on paying. He said it was his fault they were fined and that it was worth paying $ 50 for the opportunity to meet his idol. When Elvis heard the boys reason for chasing him, he took the two tickets and said he would pay for them. The boy ran the two miles back home, triumphant at meeting having met Elvis Presley.
In early 1956 a young heavy set teenager jumped the Graceland wall with a complete Elvis Presley record collection under his arm. He wanted Elvis to sign all of the albums and was determined to pass the guards and get to the door of the mansion. Once he made it to the door, he spoke with one of the bodyguards and Elvis was called. When he saw the heavy teen and heard that the boy had jumped the five foot wall Elvis burst out laughing.
He could not understand how this fat boy had managed to jump the wall when no one else could. Elvis loved the teens perseverance and told him so. Elvis signed the whole record collection and asked him to hang around. The teen was Lamar Fike, who became both a member of Elvis’s entourage and his good friend.
In one scene in “Jailhouse Rock” Elvis’s character is on stage singing “Young and beautiful” at the club La Florit when a drunk, played by Frank Kreig starts to heckle him. Elvis gets mad, jumps from the stage, and breaks the guitar across the heckler’s table. He runs out of the club and actress Judy Tyler runs after him. As she ran. Tyler put her hand through a swinging plate glass door. Most of the glass shattered into tiny pieces, although several sword like pieces still clung to the door frame. Elvis noticed that the door was about to swing back again, and he grabbed Tyler and pulled her out of the way. The accident happened so fast that the actress was dazed and confused. First aid was administered on her bleeding arm and then she was back in action. She thanked Elvis for saving her life.
In the mid 1970’s a couple whose wedding was coming up in a few weeks’ time found out that Elvis was scheduled to appear in their town. They were both avid Elvis fans and had sworn that the next time Elvis was close, they would go see him. They bought tickets and resumed finalizing their wedding plans. The day of their wedding the couple exchanged vows in a beautiful ceremony. The reception was held directly afterward. Halfway through the evening one of their relatives asked how the Elvis show was. The new bride dropped her champagne glass when she remembered that Elvis’s show was that very night. They had missed Elvis! The bride started to cry and her new husband tried to console her. If she had looked at her tickets and seen the date she would have postponed their wedding!
Her husband promised to take her to Elvis’s show the following night. The next evening they put on their wedding attire and went to the show. Charlie Hodge, one of Elvis’s dearest and oldest friends, saw the couple and approached them. They told Hodge their story, and he went backstage and relayed it to Elvis. The couple took their seats and eagerly awaited Elvis’s appearance. When the “2001: A Space Odyssey” theme began, the bride nearly fainted. During the show, Elvis stopped singing, looked into the audience and asked where the newlyweds were. Shocked, the couple jumped up. Elvis looked at the groom and joked, “Don’t you have anything else to do tonight?” The bride answered, “No way!”
Elvis sent word to have the couple meet him backstage. When the show ended, they were escorted to his private dressing room where they were introduced to Elvis by Charlie Hodge. Elvis presented the newly weds with his version of a wedding gift, a Cadillac & a check for $10,000 Elvis told them that he was flattered that they wanted to postpone their wedding just to see him.
Elvis was cruising around Memphis with his friend Eddie Fadal one day in the early 1960’s when he remembered he had to make a very important call. He checked his pockets for a dime, but couldn’t find one. Fadel didn’t have any change either.
A man was walking by just then and saw the two men searching there pockets. He produced a dime and gave it to Elvis. While Elvis made the phone call, he asked Fadel to follow the stranger and get his name and address so that he could send him a little thank-you note.
Three weeks later, the kind stranger received a letter of thanks. Elvis wrote that he wanted to repay him for his good deed, and so the mortgage on his house was now paid in full! The man was utterly speechless.
When he told his family and friends the story, no one would believe him. In order to prove he was telling the truth, he showed Elvis’s letter along with the deed to his house, silencing the non believers immediately.
Tommy Milham from Mobile Alabama, was an avid Elvis fan. When he learnt that Elvis was to perform in his hometown on April 29 1976 at the Municipal Auditorium, he went directly to the ticket office and stood in line to get front row seats. As he stood patiently waiting, he spotted Elvis standing off at a distance near his limousine. He was ecstatic at seeing his idol and yelled out. Elvis, who got a kick out of watching his fans stand in line to tickets to his shows, walked slowly over to Milham. Because the man was last in line, Elvis was able to walk over to him without causing too much of a commotion. Milham asked for an autograph. Neither had a pen handy, so Elvis offered him his scarf
Milham boldly asked Elvis for his diamond ring instead. Shrugging his shoulders, Elvis took the ring off and gave it to Milham in a discreet handshake. Elvis said he had to go and walked back to his limo. Milham did not get front row seats – however, fifth row was good enough. On the way home, he stopped at a jewelry store and had the ring appraised it was worth $ 2,000
An elderly black woman worked in the housekeeping department at the hospital. She rode the bus back and forth to work. One day as she was walking past a car dealership down Union Ave from the hospital she saw a stretch limousine parked almost right on the sidewalk. All eight doors were opened; she stuck her head in to see what the inside of a Limousine looked like. She saw the bar and the interior of the limo and was duly impressed as she said “Oh my God what a beautiful car.”
The dark haired man in the driver’s seat turned around and said “Oh you think so?” It was Elvis. He then looked at the man in the front passenger seat and said “Order her one just like it.”
Probably one of the earliest occasions Elvis gave a Cadillac away was when he gave a 1954 convertible to Sam Phillips of Sun Records in late 1955.
During Elvis’s courtship to Priscilla, (apart from various other cars) he gave her a black Cadillac Eldorado.
Ed Parker, Elvis’s karate instructor received a Cadillac as a gift from Elvis.
In 1965 Elvis gave Sonny West a 1963 Cadillac, who later received a 1967 Cadillac Eldorado.
At Christmas time 1965 Elvis gave his friend Marty Lacker a white 1960 Cadillac.
Whilst in LA in 1966 Elvis bought a black Cadillac convertible for bodyguard Sonny West. He also bought himself a black Cadillac convertible, a black Eldorado convertible for bodyguard Red West, and a white Cadillac convertible each for friends Alan Fortas, Jerry Schilling and Richard Davis his valet. Larry Geller, Elvis’s hair stylist was the recipient of a black convertible. Marty Lacker received a Cadillac sedan and right hand man Joe Esposito a maroon Cadillac convertible.
During the filming of Easy Come Easy Go in 1967, Elvis bought actor Pat Harrington a maroon Cadillac.
At Xmas time 1967, Elvis bought his wife Priscilla a Cadillac Fleetwood limousine (presumably a 1968 model). He also bought his friend George Klein a brand new 1968 Cadillac.
In July 1973 Elvis spent $200,000 on 29 cars in a week and a half, many of them Cadillacs. Sonny West received a 1973 Eldorado black on black Eldorado.
Elvis’s Tae Kwon Do instructor, Kang Rhee was the recipient of the 1973 triple white Eldorado coupe.
On 23rd September 1974 Elvis bought five Cadillacs from Madison Cadillac in Memphis, including one for Vester Presley, Gee Gee Gamble (his cousin’s husband and also one of his aides),Barbara Klein and an Eldorado for Sonny West.
On 17th January 1975, he bought 11 Cadillacs from Madison Cadillac.
On 27th July 1975 Elvis set a record for himself as well as for Madison Cadillac, where he had been buying Cadillacs for twenty years. He spent $140,000 buying fourteen Cadillacs for friends, family and a stranger. Mrs Mennie L. Person a bank teller of 1868 Meadowhill was “just looking,” admiring Elvis’s custom made limousine when Elvis appeared and asked her if she liked it. He said “That one’s mine but I’ll buy you one.” He escorted her to the showroom and said “Pick one out”. She chose a gold and white 1975 $11,500 Eldorado.
In September 1974, Elvis bought his Uncle Vester a gold Coupe de Ville with black top.
Not long after that, salesman Bob Brown gave Elvis a plaque for being the “World’s Best Car Buyer”. Inscribed were the names of 31 people to whom Elvis had given a car.
Elvis Presley was known as a generous man, using his fame and wealth for the good of others. But, that part of his nature was well expressed long before he became a star. His family was far from wealthy, so all the little extras in life such as toys for young Elvis, were not so easy for his parents Vernon and Gladys Presley to come by. There were times when one of those toys would come up missing. His parents would ask Elvis about it, finding that he had given it to some other kid in the neighborhood whom he noticed had nothing to play with. His later fame and wealth did not create his material and spiritual generosity. It simply fueled what was there inside him all along.
Throughout his career, Elvis often performed benefit concerts in support of various causes – storm victims in Mississippi, Memphis charities, the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Hawaii, the Kui Lee Cancer Fund, just to name a few. He personally donated to many charities, some at random, some on a continuing basis. He also reached out to friends, family and total strangers on an individual basis – paying hospital bills and providing financial assistance for the necessities of life. Much of what he did was done quietly, without fanfare.
For many years around the holiday season Elvis made annual donations to fifty or more Memphis-area charitable organizations. Here are some of them:
Abe Scharff YMCA, Arthritis Foundation, Ave Marie Guild Home for the Aged, Baptist Children’s Home, Beale Street Elk’s Club, Boys Town of Memphis, Convent of the Good Shepherd, Crippled Children’s Hospital, Cynthia Milk Fund, Elvis Presley Youth Center of Tupelo, Episcopal Home For Girls, Foundation for the Junior Blind, Fraternal Order of Police, Girls Club of Memphis, Goodwill Home for Children, Happy Acres, Home for Incurables, Jesse Mahan Center, Jewish Community Center, John Tracy Clinic, Kennedy hospital, King’s Daughter’s Trinity Circle, Lions Club, Mary Galloway Home, Memphis Epilepsy Foundation, Memphis Hebrew Academy, Good Fellows, Mile – O – Dimes, Muscular Dystrophy, Orange Mound Day Nursery, Porter-Leath Children’s Home, Salvation Army, St. Joseph Indian School, Variety Club of Memphis.
Elvis clearly believed in sharing his blessings with others. His choices were diverse and showed no preference for age, race or creed. He saw only the need.
One of his great joys was to see the reaction of someone to whom he gave a special, unexpected gift. To see the look of surprise and wonderment on the face of a stranger when presented a wished-for Cadillac or Lincoln he or she might never have been able to afford. When complimented on a piece of jewelry or an item of clothing, turning around and giving the item to the person who admired it.
The stories of Elvis’ generosity, his outreach to others, are many. Just one of the reasons that, thirty four years after his death, Elvis Presley is still remembered with love and respect.
(these are just a handful of the times Elvis purchased cars for others)
The Elvis Legacy of Generosity and Compassion is a true reflection of a Good Samaritan with a Loving Heart who loved everyone more than he loved himself. The countless personal stories of gifts and time and letters and calls to children with cancer, polio victims, people down on their luck, etc. is the true foundation of what continues in Hollywood today. Elvis started it all. He always gave more than he received and felt responsible for everybody’s feelings.
You might be surprised to learn that of all the benefit concerts that Elvis did, his first was probably the Louisiana Hayride at the age of 19 when he performed for nothing so the proceeds would go to the local YMCA. And he put on one heck of an unforgettable show. He was not internationally famous yet, but was a rising star in the southeast and already had a host of screaming female fans. He was known as the “hillbilly cat” at that time and his talent was raw and sensually exciting.
Elvis never turned down an opportunity to give to those less fortunate.
IF YOU HAVEN’T PURCHASED THIS DVD YET, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!
Elvis Presley will forever be an icon of the 20th century. 200 Cadillac’s is a documentary film that focuses on the generosity of Elvis Presley. Chock full of candid and personal interviews along with touching and funny stories and never before seen photos of Elvis throughout various periods of his life.